In our modern economy 90% of wealth is generated through knowledge. While mainstream businesses and entrepreneurs have their innovation and creativity protected by intellectual property (IP), Indigenous knowledge - traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expression - have not received the same legal protection. Whether it be medicinal, crops, cultural/artistic, product or land related – Indigenous knowledge continues to be appropriated and capitalized on by outside sources without a proper legal regime in place. Inventiveness, know-how, effort and creativity can be protected by the law through patents, copyright, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indicators.
In order to prepare for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business is collaborating with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, and Marketplace Framework Policy Branch to discuss Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights.
- Protect Indigenous trade in the NAFTA renegotiation
- Understand contributions of Indigenous knowledge to the Canadian economy
- Engage communities and businesses to build an appropriate mechanism to reconcile Traditional Knowledge with modern IP regulation
- Develop a framework to recognize and document the value Indigenous Traditional Knowledge contributes to the global value chain
- Clarify NAFTA’s implications for Indigenous IP
- Consider what the Innovation Economy could mean for Indigenous Businesses
- Decide on next steps to increase Indigenous engagement in NAFTA renegotiation
Christina Gray is a senior research associate with the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
Oluwatobiloba (Tobi) Moody is a post-doctoral fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program (ILRP). In this role, Tobi researches international law and governance pertaining to intellectual property with a specific focus on the protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources.
As director of international law at CIGI, Oonagh Fitzgerald established and oversees CIGI’s international law research agenda, which includes policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, intellectual property law and innovation, and Indigenous law.
Risa Schwartz is a senior research fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program. In this role, Risa will examine whether international environmental agreements have the potential to trigger the duty to consult and accommodate with Aboriginal people and what this would mean for policy makers in Canada and beyond. Prior to joining CIGI, Risa was counsel to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in Ontario.
Rohinton P. Medhora is president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), joining in 2012. He served on CIGI's former International Board of Governors from 2009 to 2014. Previously, he was vice president of programs at Canada’s International Development Research Centre.